UC Berkeley News
Press Release

UC Berkeley Press Release

New fund to help recruit top graduate students in the humanities

– A $6 million grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that will help the University of California, Berkeley, recruit top graduate students in the humanities was announced today (Monday, Jan. 28) by Janet Broughton, UC Berkeley's dean of arts and humanities.

"The Mellon Graduate Student Excellence Fund will give us a major boost as we compete with leading private universities for the field's best graduate students," said Broughton.

In its most recent survey of American graduate programs, the highly-regarded National Research Council ranked UC Berkeley's faculty in the humanities first in the nation. But Broughton said that competition for the best graduate students is fierce.

"Our premiere five-year packages of financial support for graduate students in the humanities lag behind those offered by competing institutions," she said, adding that the Mellon Graduate Student Excellence Fund will enable UC Berkeley to compete on a more level playing field.
Thanks to the endowment, UC Berkeley each year will be able to offer a select group of top graduate students in the humanities a five-year financial package providing stipends of $26,000 annually. The first cohort of students will receive grants in 2009-2010.

"The fund will enable UC Berkeley to increase its fellowship awards significantly by topping off Berkeley Graduate Fellowships," said Andrew Szeri, dean of UC Berkeley's Graduate Division. As many as 14 prospective students will be offered the Mellon-Berkeley fellowships in the program's first year, and the program will grow along with the endowment.

The Mellon grant will have a broad impact on the humanities at UC Berkeley, according to Broughton. "We'll be able to train greater numbers of the leaders of the next generation of scholars, and we'll also enhance our ability to recruit and retain top faculty, for whom the experience of working with even one exceptional graduate student can be transformative," she said.

"This remarkable grant will help UC Berkeley to secure its position of leadership in the humanities, maintaining our hallmark strengths across a wide array of fields including the study of literature, history, art, religion and philosophy," Broughton said.

UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau expressed his appreciation for the Mellon Foundation endowment. "I take great pride in the superb quality of our humanities programs, and the foundation's confidence in UC Berkeley could not be more heartening," he said.